Nate Colbert, an original member of the San Diego Padres and the franchise’s all-time home run leader, has died at the age of 76, the team announced Thursday. A cause of death was not given.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Padres Hall of Famer Nate Colbert. Our hearts go out to his wife, Kasey, and the entire Colbert family at this very difficult time,” Padres chairman Peter Seidler said in a statement. “An original member of the Padres in 1969, Nate was a trailblazer in the San Diego sports community. He was a three-time National League All-Star in brown and gold and became the Padres all-time home run king (163), a record that still stands today. Nate was devoted to his community off the field as well, dedicating his time to disadvantaged youth through his ministry. He was a magnetic person who will be dearly missed.”
Born and raised in St. Louis, Colbert signed with his hometown Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964, the last year without the annual amateur draft. The Houston Astros selected Colbert in the Rule 5 Draft one year later and he made his MLB debut with Houston in 1966, going 0 for 7 in 19 games. Colbert played 39 games with the Astros from 1966-68 and hit .133 without a home run.
The Padres selected Colbert, a first baseman who also played a little outfield, with the 18th pick of the October 1968 expansion draft. He slugged a team-leading 24 home runs in 1969, the franchise’s inaugural season. A year later he hit 38 home runs. Colbert represented the Padres in the All-Star Game every year from 1971-73 and he finished eighth in the NL MVP voting in 1972 after hitting .250/.333/.508 with 38 homers and 111 RBI.
On Aug. 1, 1972, Colbert put together one of the greatest single-day performances in baseball history, socking five home runs and driving in 13 runs in a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta Stadium. Colbert tied Hall of Famer Stan Musial’s record with five home runs in one day and set new single-day records for RBI (13) and total bases (22). He went 4 for 5 with two homers and 5 RBI in the first game and 3 for 4 with three homers and 8 RBI in the second game. The Padres swept the two games 9-0 and 11-7.
In parts of six seasons with the Padres, Colbert authored a .253/.331/.469 batting line and slugged a franchise-leading 163 home runs. Adrián González is second on the franchise home run list with 161. Here’s what Colbert told the…